1. Just in case you’re suffering from the winter blues or cabin fever, drink in some of the gorgeous colors, patterns and textures of Este MacLeod’s paintings.
Born in South Africa, Este now lives in London, where she creates beautiful, stylized landscapes, florals and still lives. What a master of layering and composition! There is a certain dreaminess about her work that nourishes the viewer. Shake off the blahs, wake up and embrace the world in living color!
She even has a BLUE alphabet!!! Squee!!
Check out her Floral and Birds Gallery — truly a feast for the eyes.
Limited edition prints, notebooks, tea towels and originals are available for purchase at her Etsy Shop.
2. New Book Alert! Sometimes you find the nicest surprises in your mailbox. Recently, THE BOOK OF YAWNS by Carolyn Blasinsky (Blazing Sky & Co., 2018) magically appeared.
This adorable board book is just the thing to get the little ones to wind down at bedtime. Full color photographs of eight wild and domestic animals show them practicing the fine art of yawning. Their facial expressions, whether weary, drowsy, or comical, are just plain priceless, and the simple, repetitive text saying “night night” to each animal is hypnotic.
The thing is, after you’ve turned a few pages, you start to get sleepy too. Yawns are contagious! Whether in the forest, ocean, open plains, arctic or back yard, these creatures demonstrate what we all have in common. I especially like the monkey, tiger and seal. Guess who the last animal in the book is?
I asked Carolyn, who is my neighbor, to provide a little backstory about the book:
I’m a graphic and web designer and have always wanted to do a children’s book – I was just waiting for the right idea to strike. With a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old I read to them nightly and one book showed a character yawning which made us all yawn and I thought – what about a book all about yawns?! Children love animals and it seemed like the perfect combination. I like simple books that are easy to read (for tired parents at night) and love great photographs and clean, beautiful design. Plus – it helps get my little readers sleepy and ready for bed! My kids love the book and I’ve learned a lot in the process. It’s been an interesting project!
A special treat for animal lovers, THE BOOK OF YAWNS is the perfect new baby, shower or toddler gift. I would *yawn* tell you more *y -a-w -n* but I really need *y — a. –w — n* to take a nap.
Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz . . .
3. Don’t tell anyone, but I’ve always wanted to live in a cartoon. No surprise, since our house is full of toys and we strongly advocate make-believe.
Have you heard about this cool cartoonish cafe in South Korea?
The artistic, monochrome design was inspired by Korea’s hit TV show, W, by Lee Jong-suk and Han Hyo-joo, in which the characters clash between “two worlds”— the real world and a fantasy world inside a webtoon. The design of Cafe Yeonnam-dong 239-20 creates a 2D optical illusion, which makes customers feel as though they’ve crossed dimensions into a comic book illustration. When visitors step through the door, they’re greeted with black and white comic strip furniture, walls, and floors. Even the mugs, dishes, and cutlery look like flat line drawings.
This place is just too cool — and yes, I especially LOVE the two-dimensional style mugs, dishes, and flatware. Brilliant!
Take me there, please.
4. Another new book alert! It’s always cause for celebration when Barbara Crooker publishes a new poetry collection. My copy of The Book of Kells (Cascade Books, 2018) just arrived and I’m slowly savoring each and every poem.
Barbara Crooker’s eighth book of poetry, The Book of Kells, focuses on the illuminated medieval manuscript with a series of meditations on its various aspects, from the ink and pigments used by the scribes and illustrators to the various plants, animals, and figures depicted on its pages, including the punctuation and use of decoration in the capital letters. It also contains poems on the flora and fauna of Ireland (swans, hares, magpies, fuchsia, gorse, crocosmia, etc.) that Crooker encountered during writing residencies at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in County Monaghan.
The third thread in this volume is a series of glosas, a fifteenth-century Spanish form that incorporates a quatrain from other poems; here, Irish writers (Yeats, Heaney, O’Driscoll) provide the embedded lines. In her work, Crooker considers the struggle to pin lines to the page, to tie experience to the written word, to wrestle between faith and doubt, to accept the aging body as it tries to be fully alive in the world.
Crooker contrasts the age of faith, when the Book of Kells was created, to our modern age of doubt, and uses as her foundation the old stones of Irish myth and lore from pre-Christian times. She juxtaposes a time when the written word was laborious and sacred against our electronic world, where communication by pixel is easy and brief. Above all, she captures the awe that the word inspired in preliterate times: “The world was the Book of God. The alphabet shimmered and buzzed with beauty.”
So lovely to get an Irish fix courtesy of Barbara’s beautiful words. Will feature several poems from this collection in a future Poetry Friday post, and I’m happy to announce that Barbara herself will be stopping by for a chat in the not too distant future. 🙂
5. Just about now you’ve probably got the munchies (I know you too well). How about some chocolate organs and bones?
From the department of “whoa, I love chocolate and these are such cool novelty treats but I don’t know if I could bear to eat any of them,” comes anatomically correct chocolates from Visual Anatomy.
I imagine their hearts were especially popular for Valentine’s Day, but why stop there? Surprise someone with a box of hearts, lungs, vertebra, kidneys, skulls and hips!
Why yes, if you’re feeling the girl power, go for a uterus! If you need a unique shower gift, why not spring for their Great Expectations box, which includes a uterus, heart, brain, and 2 sperm (a mix of milk and dark chocolate)!
Visual Anatomy is a small company that started in 2000 as a medical illustration studio. They make everything by hand in the USA with careful attention to detail (see all 24 shapes here).
I’m thinking these would go over well with medical professionals, hospital employees, patients, etc. Wonder if my niece, a chocolate lover who’s studying medicine at Johns Hopkins, could stomach these? 😀
6. Something to look forward to next month: a brand new picture book by Monica Wellington! Recently received F&Gs of DEAR BALLERINA, which comes out March 19, 2019 from Holiday House:
A dream comes true for a girl who loves tutus, pointe shoes, and dancing on tiptoe!
The girl in this story loves to stretch, to pose, to point her toes, to swirl and twirl and leap! She practices new steps every day. All her efforts are rewarded when one special day, she gets to dance in a performance with her favorite ballerina.
“Dear Ballerina,” the girl writes, “I dream of being a dancer just like you.”
The pictures in the book take the reader behind the scenes of the ballet to a practice room, a costume room, and the wings of the stage. At last, the curtain goes up, and the girl and her idol dance. Their tutus swirl together!
“Dancing makes me happy!” the little ballerina says.
A touching story about dance, passion, effort, and intergenerational mentorship.
The five ballet positions are illustrated, and behind-the-scene secrets are revealed. Back matter provides interesting information about pointe shoes, tutus, and the contents of a ballet bag.
The author-illustrator is the mother of a little girl who has grown up to be a professional ballerina with New York City Ballet. This book was inspired by letters Lydia Wellington wrote to dancers she admired, as well as letters she has received from young fans. Every detail in this book is filled with joy and love and is authentic and accurate.
This is such a sweet, lovely story for aspiring ballerinas, and really for any child who’s ever looked up to someone, written a fan letter, and gotten to meet him/her in person. I like knowing that Monica herself loved attending the ballet as a child, and encouraged her daughter to follow her dream of becoming a dancer.
More good news from Monica: Her delectable picture book Crêpes by Suzette is available once again in paperback! This was first released in hardcover back in 2004 and had gone out of print for a few years. But now, by popular demand, Suzette is back — and we’re happy to tell you that Monica will also be dropping by Alphabet Soup soon for a chat. Can’t wait!
7. Time for a ceramics fix: new stuff from Jimbobart! You may remember my featuring some of UK artist James Ward’s quirky side plates and stacking mugs before. Love his animal designs with funny sayings (several years ago, one of his “Cake” plates actually inspired Tammi Sauer to write a picture book!).
His newest side plates are quite charming:
And yes, there’s another Cake-themed piece:
Was happy to see “Mr Bear is inside your mug”:
and, *wait for it* — he now has a new line of BLUE WILLOW side plates:
Besides the rabbit, there’s a raccoon, leopard and lemur. Sigh.
Ah, BLUE! He’s definitely on the right wave length. 🙂
I see that in addition to crockery, he also sells doormats, enamel pins, stationery, cushions and tea towels. Check out all the goodies at his official site.
Hmmm, maybe Tammi might be inspired to write another book? 🙂
8. Okay, okay. I admit it. I’m obsessed with Tate’s Bake Shop Chocolate Chip Cookies. But I’m not the only one. Len is too. We eat these every. single. day.
About eight months ago, I googled “Best Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies” and came up with Tate’s. Having never been to the famous bakery in South Hampton, and leading a relatively sheltered life where none of my friends or relatives ever mentioned them, I was totally unaware they even existed.
So, la-dee-da, I was just going along my merry way, living a ho-hum existence without Tate’s, happy in my ignorance. But then I read about how good they were — something about thin, buttery, and oh-so-crisp.
In this world of equal opportunity chocolate chip cookies, where some like theirs crispy while others prefer thick and chewy, still others like nuts or oatmeal mixed in, etc., I was pretty easy to please, since I kind of liked them all (except the stale ones). Any home baked cc cookie warm from the oven, no matter what recipe, was always good.
Could a store-bought cookie even compete? I have childhood memories of Chips Ahoy which sufficed then, but I have always felt a store-bought cookie is in another category entirely.
Until Tate’s Bake Shop.
We first tried a bag of the original. Sooooooo good. Their thinness led me to believe I was eating fewer calories. But when I realized I was addicted and would be eating these on a daily basis, I switched to the gluten free ones (though not allergic to wheat, I am sometimes wheat sensitive).
So there you have it. Every day, between 1:30 – 2 p.m., you will find me eating two Tate’s GF cc cookies with a glass of rice milk. Believe me, it takes gargantuan willpower to eat only two (pat me on the back, please).
Perhaps you’ve known about Tate’s all along. To you, I say, WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL ME??!!
To those of you who are Tate virgins, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
That is all.
9. Finally, remember last month when one of my cool things was Squishable Comfort Food? Well, when they had a 20% off sale recently, I decided to order one just to satisfy my curiosity about quality and cuteness factor.
It was tough trying to pick one from all the adorable options, but I was willing to make the sacrifice on your behalf. 🙂
I decided on the mini Slice of Cake (7″ across). Everything they said about it is true — soooooo soft, fluffy, and huggable. We love our CAKE!! Len even talks to it, for crying out loud. It does have a cute little face on the side, it’s well made, and so far it’s very well behaved. And there’s no danger of the Paddingtons trying to eat it since it’s not marmalade.
CAKE made friends with everyone and knew how to make herself at home in every room of the house.
So, if you ever need a unique gift for a special someone, give them a Squishable! Or maybe you’d like to adopt one for yourself? There is a serious cuteness factor here. Go ahead, you know you want one. Embrace the power of the plush!
Now for our blue song, here’s Neil Diamond’s “Song Sung Blue.” He wrote and recorded it in 1972. Did you know it was inspired by the second movement of Mozart’s Piano Concerto #21? Nominated for two Grammy’s, it was Diamond’s second #1 hit on the Billboard Top 100.
HAPPY TUESDAY, FRIENDS!
EAT GOOD FOOD
READ AND WRITE
BELIEVE IN BLUE
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** Copyright © 2019 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.